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EU says in an email, “My home overlooks the river and the Sandia Pueblo from the west. For the last several weeks on many occasions in the evening I have seen the Rail Runner operating both north and south. I thought it had been shut down since March.
“I know it’s not Amtrak or a freight train as I have seen the Rail Runner hundreds of times over the last few years. Anyway, is it operating? If so, for who?”
Augusta Meyers, communications manager for the Mid-Region Council of Governments, says, “Yes, the train is running, but no, it is not carrying any passengers currently.”
And here’s why:
“As the Rail Runner is an asset of the state of New Mexico, passenger service has been suspended since mid-March per the governor’s public health orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, the reason you have been seeing Rail Runner trains running is because we are in the midst of implementing a $60 million federal safety mandate that must be installed by the end of this year called “Positive Train Control” – or PTC. Fortunately, crews were able to continue work in the train’s corridor on PTC during the shutdown because it does not require a lot of people in a small space – (it’s) safe to socially distance while the work was being completed. The train activity you’ve been seeing are the trains being tested as the system was being installed. The Federal Railroad Administration requires a lot of testing during PTC to ensure it is working correctly.”
Meyers says, “Every railroad across the country has had to install PTC, which by the way is a safety enhancement designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, high-speed derailments, misaligned switches, and other catastrophic events on the railway. So in effect, when the governor allows service to resume on the Rail Runner, passengers will be get the benefit of enhanced safety measures – both with PTC and with more rigorous cleaning/disinfecting protocols due to the pandemic.”
WHO CLEANS UP ROADKILL ON TRAMWAY? That comes from Carla Chirigos. She emails, “It seems as though employees of both the city and the county need clarification as well, because when I called regarding a dead cat and a dead raccoon on the shoulders of different sections of Tramway both departments directed me to each other’s department – and the dead animals are still lying on the shoulders of Tramway.”
Carla says it’s a concern because she and many others bike on Tramway regularly.
In fact, she says she “called 311 to report the dead cat on the east side of Tramway between Cloudview and Copper nearly six weeks ago” and the dead raccoon on the east side of Tramway between San Rafael and Simms road over two weeks ago to the county.”
Carla says both animals were still on the shoulders Oct. 6 despite each entity saying they would call the other/get the bodies picked up. I will spare you the photo evidence.
Turns out the city and county should have called the state highway department.
Kimberly Gallegos, who handles information for the New Mexico Department of Transportation, says “our NMDOT crews clean up the shoulders and right of way when it comes to trash, debris and dead animals. Crews are usually dispatched when calls of dead animals come in. NMDOT maintains all of Tramway, from Interstate 25 to Interstate 40. However, the city streets are maintained by the city. Crews do not patrol for dead animals, however if they see any or called out by dispatch, they respond and remove.”
The main number to NMDOT District 3, which covers the metro area, is 934-0354.
CAN WE AGREE THAT PILE IS UGLY? After two weeks of back-and-forth on the stockpile of asphalt for recycling along Interstate 25 as you enter Albuquerque from the south, a reader emails there should be some common ground.
“Can we get the city, county and state authorities to at least admit that it’s ugly? I think that would be the first step. I mean, I get citing statute and definition, that’s what I do all day! But when someone calls the regulations I work with annoying or unclear, well those are subjective statements that I’m usually inclined to agree with. I’ll buy you a coffee if you can get (the Bernalillo County or NM Environmental Department spokeswomen) or their bosses to just simply admit that a cyclopean tower of asphalt, legal or no, is an eyesore.”
Not holding my breath.
Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; email@example.com; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109.
This article first appeared on www.abqjournal.com
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